West Ham got their season back on track in Saturday’s early kick off by thumping Fulham at Upton Park 3-0 in a game that saw Andy Carroll make his Premier League debut for his new club. It took less than a minute – 56 seconds in fact – for Carroll to get his partnership with Kevin Nolan off to a flier as the latter scored to give West Ham the lead in a frantic start.
Many believe the tone has been set for West Ham’s approach to games this season. With their new-look side, a closer look at Sam Allardyce’s approach now the transfer window has closed and all his cards are on the table is in order.
Carroll is a big addition to West Ham’s squad, and his presence it makes it possible for Allardyce to tinker with his style and formation. Not only does Carroll’s arrival allow a more direct route to goal in terms of pressure, but he gives the team a get out clause when defending that will make all the difference when they are looking to re-shape while facing pressure of their own. From a tactical point of view it is imperative that Nolan and whoever is playing alongside Carroll gets up in support to pick up any second balls that fall around him. In doing this they will make sure they can build attacks from higher up the pitch and take fewer risks in doing so.
Matt Jarvis and Matt Taylor are two of the other weapons that Allardyce has at his disposal. Both players have a wicked cross, the kind that Carroll will attack all day. In Jarvis they have a player that has the feet to beat a man, is direct in his style and pleasing on the eye, which will assure the fans that pay their money to come and support their side every week.
At the back Allardyce will be looking to James Collins to lead his defenders on the pitch and use his experience to bring players like James Tomkins into his own, giving him the confidence he needs to settle himself as a Premier League centre-back. It always helps a young talent when he has a player beside him to coach him through games, and the mixture of experience and youth is a balance that has often been successful over the years.
The huge bonus for Allardyce is that a majority of his squad have played in the Premier League before. The experience that each one brings to their respective positions is undoubtedly invaluable as they will not need much time to settle in. Couple this with the new, untested and exciting players at this level and the Hammers can look forward to not only a successful year, but a brand of football that will please many regular observes, although surely not all.
The tone may have been set but it is one that Allardyce knows well. Carroll is an ideal complement to the former Bolton Wanderers manager’s approach and the evidence on first viewing suggests that the pieces are falling into place.
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